We’ve all been wowed by pictures of Dubai’s ultra-modern skyline that have landed this small desert emirate on many-a Middle Eastern bucket list. But is visiting this oil-rich oasis really as amazing as it seems to be?
Unpopular opinion alert: It probably isn’t.
While Dubai no doubt has its far share of raving fans, there’s an equally strong number of travelers who leave feeling let down by this Middle Eastern city. Here are a few reasons why Dubai might be one of the most overrated travel destinations on the planet…
Dubai is expensive
Not that price is usually a deal breaker for me (I love Japan and its not exactly known as a bargain-basement destination), but Dubai takes this to a whole new level. The glitzy and, frankly pretentious, malls in Dubai carry price tags more suited for oil-rich sheiks or highfalutin celebs than run-of-the-mill roving wanderers like us.
And the gouging doesn’t stop at the malls. Take a fist full of dirham to the city’s ritzy night clubs and you’ll see just how out of reach much of Dubai is for us (presumably) average folk. Definitely not a scene that would captivate my attention.
As you make your way throughout Dubai, it seems painfully difficult to get a sense of what this place may have been like before the oil boom. Most of the people you’ll interact with will undoubtedly be from outside the emirates, lured here by highly-paid (and some meagre) jobs ranging from everything to oil executives to construction workers.
Of course, there’s obviously a bonafide local culture in Dubai, too. But unlike other far more interesting Middle Eastern cities like Cairo, Jerusalem or Beirut, you’re gonna have to search for it. The souks around Dubai Creek are a good place to start. Perhaps though, it’s a little too little to really push Dubai into compelling travel destination territory.
As nice as escaping to heat sounds in the dead of a North American winter, there’s a certain point that it goes a little overboard. And that’s right about were Dubai lands.
If sweating your butt off in 100ºF heat while adhering to conservative dress codes sounds fun, you might just love it in Dubai. Otherwise, anyone sensitive to extreme temperatures might find the experience of traveling in Dubai unsettling.
(And let’s not forget periodic dust storms.)
It should come as no surprise that in a strict emirate like Dubai, the laws are going to be a little stricter than usual. Although it’s far “freer” in Dubai that other neighboring emirates, that’s not to say you’ll have free reign of the joint (or anything remotely close).
You may find it difficult to search certain topics up on your trip to Dubai. Although most the censorship is for sites you probably shouldn’t be looking up anywhere (umm, like adult stuff), other seemingly innocuous things like VoIP calling, dating sites, and certain social media sites are inaccessible.
Why not just use a VPN? Think again. The use of VPNs within Dubai is illegal as it circumvents their Internet laws.